Dr. G.M. Mehkari (19 October 1908 – 15 August, 1995)


19th October 1908, is the birth date of Dr. G.M Mehkri, who was born in Bangalore (India), raised and educated in Bangalore, Poona, Delhi, and Bombay, and migrated to Karachi during partition, where he had already lived for a year in 1942. Here he joined a Government Department and worked till his superannuation. However, after retirement from govt. service, he worked as Visiting Professor of Sociology and Psychology at Sindh University from 1977 to 1979. He used to deliver the lecture in Sociology Department on Saturday and on Monday in Psychology Department. According to Sindhi writer Manzoor Kohiyar, his lectures were so impressive and erudite that students of other departments used to attend.

He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from Bombay University during the 1940s, and topic of his dissertation was “The Social background of Hindu-Muslim relationship”. Dr. Anjum Altaf, a renowned academic and writer, who met him once in the eighties, took great pains to retrieve this thesis and tried to get it published through the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, Islamabad. But I think it is still unpublished despite his best efforts. In one of his blog writings, he shared a table of contents of Dr. Mehkari’s dissertation, which is being reproduced here to offer worthy readers glimpses of his scholarship.

“Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1: A General Outline of the History of Pre-Muslim India

Chapter 2: Islam’s Contact With India

Chapter 3: Rise and Decay of the Muslim Power in India: A Brief Chronological History

Chapter 4: Early Muslims’ View of India and Indians

Chapter 5: Being a Brief History of the Social Relationship between the Hindu and Muslim Rulers from Akber to Tipu Sultan

Chapter 6: The Hindus and the Muslims of India after A.D. 1800

Chapter 7: The Hindu View and Way of Life

Chapter 8: The Muslims of India, Their View, and Way of Life

Chapter 9: Some of the Outstanding Leaders of Indian Muslims

Chapter 10: The Question of Language, Script, and Literature

Chapter 11: Muslim Mind as Expressed through the Urdu Literature

Chapter 12: Development of National Consciousness Among the Indian Muslims

Chapter 13: Conclusion

Appendix: Bibliography”

Dr. Anjum Altaf notes that “This table of contents strikes an academic of today as representing a mode of thought that has gone out of fashion. Modern approaches refrain from such broad generalizations as to the Muslim mind or the Hindu or Muslim view of life which would inevitably lead to a clash of cultures. Excessively chronological accounts and those based entirely on secondary sources are also not considered very rewarding.”

Dr. Anjum Altaf also shared excerpts from the preface: “In the preface, Dr. Mehkri mentions that he became interested in sociology in 1940 and completed his thesis in the Bombay University School of Economics and Sociology under the supervision of Professor G.S. Ghurye (Ph.D., University of Cambridge, 1922). Dr. Mehkri mentions Dr. Clifford Manshardt, the founding director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the author of the 1935 book The Hindu Muslim Problem in India, as a member of his dissertation committee. The dissertation was financially supported by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.

“Dr. Mehkri writes in the preface that in 1940 when he started his program of study “[T]he communal situation in India had by now assumed serious proportions – to the extent of forcing the British Government to withhold the application of the Federal Part of the Constitution of 1935 to the government of India. Dr. Ghurye suggested that I may attempt to study the historical and social background of what then looked to many to be mere political agitation but in which Dr. Ghurye saw a good field of study in political sociology.”

Dr. Anjum Altaf opines that “What fascinated me was the audacity and innovativeness of his thinking and his ability to communicate the excitement of such thinking to a younger generation. He was the kind of teacher one would have loved to have as a thesis advisor.”

Interestingly in a book titled “Indian Sociology Through Ghurye, a Dictionary” By S. Devadas Pillai, there is mention of Dr. Mehkri along with Mr. SH Haider, who were his pupils in 1940s. Pillai writes that Dr. Mehkri met his mentor and teacher one or two times after partition but used to correspond with him. He has seen two letters written by Dr. Mehkri. One was spread over 24 type-written pages. He quotes Dr. Mehkri as writing:” If only this long long letter were to give you an idea of how much I miss your glorious contact… What have I not done to betray the trust you had in me… You even had an idea to send me to [an institute in] Geneva. But Respected Dr. Ghurye, it was in my fate to be [without that honour].”

Dr. Mehkari wrote hundreds of articles on a variety of topics, mostly published in Daily News, Dawn, Quarterly Sindh Quarterly, Karachi, Bi-annual Sindhiological Studies, Jamshoro. He also contributed write-ups in then Kids Magazine of Dawn, which enlightened and inspired the younger generation of that period.

In mid-eighties his book ‘Sorrows of Sindh” was published by Hyderabad based publisher. Besides, a Sindhi intellectual Mr. Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo has also translated his articles published mostly in Daily News and got them first published in Sindhi daily Ibrat, then compiled in a book titled Mehkari ja Mazmoon. When this book was being published, he wrote a letter to Joyo sahib, which is excerpted here:

“Friend Mazhar Yousuf gave the heartening news that you are about to hand over your valued translation of forty of my titbits to the printer for publication.

“… I am enclosing a negative of my photo, I will be delighted if the picture is printed in the book so that Sindhis may also see how I looked.

“The name given to me without my knowledge, by my parents, is Ghulam Mohiuddin Mehkri. I abbreviated it to G.M Mehkri. Now my interpretation of GM Mehkri is my pen name Gulab Motia Mehk!……

“My bio-data is as under:

Name: GM Mehkri/Born: 19th October 1908/Birth Place: Bangalore city/Educated at: Bangalore (Mysore), Poona, Bombay, New Delhi and in 1950 in Karachi (law)/Took Ph.D. in Sociology under Dr. G.S Ghurye, the well-known sociologist and anthropologist, Bombay University.”

In another letter, he added his pen names GMM, Gulab Motia Mehkri, and GULAB MOTIA MEHK and names of teachers who inspired him. These and his other letters have been published in a book titled My dear Joyojee.

Sindh Culture Department has also published his essay collection On Sindh, which contains his essays published in Sindh quarterly and some unpublished essays. Still, his numerous articles remain to be compiled and published in book format including his above-discussed Ph.D. Thesis.

I conclude my write up with the words of Joyo sahib: “Dr. Mehkri is an enlightened soul – and like other enlightened souls, considers it his mission to enlighten: he has performed, does perform, and will continue performing that mission actively as long as he finds darkness – the obscurantism of belief in phantoms – around in the human world.”


Facebook comments